11/05/2016 Wednesday in Parliament


11/05/2016

Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 11 May, presented by Alicia McCarthy.


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its close. Join me live for the ceremony of prorogation.

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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament.

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Questions on corruption at the last PMQS of this session of parliament.

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The Culture Secretary is called to the Commons ahead

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of the publication of his plans for the BBC.

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And peers are told - in no uncertain terms -

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it's time to give up their opposition to the Housing Bill.

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Enough is enough. It is time to stop.

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But first, to a rumbustious Prime Minister's Questions -

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the last before the end of this session of parliament.

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It started politely enough, with tributes to the veteran

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wildlife broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough.

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Since we often celebrate great national events in this house, with

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the Prime Minister wish Sir David Attenborough are very happy 90th

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birthday and thank him for the way he has presented nature programmes

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on television and awakened the ideas of so many people to the fragility

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of our ecosystem and educated a whole generation. I certainly join

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the right honourable gentleman in wishing Sir David Attenborough are

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happy birthday. Many of us feel we grew up with him as our teacher on

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the environment and natural world. I am proud to say the Royal Arctic

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ship will be named after David Attenborough. There was strong

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support for Boaty McBoatface. I think the submarine on the boat will

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be named Boaty McBoatface. But with the niceties over MPs

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turned to the subject of corruption. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister

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was caught on camera telling the Queen that Nigeria

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and Afghanistan were 'possibly the two most corrupt countries

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in the world.' Both states are due to attend

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an anti-corruption summit in London. David Cameron's comments

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were raised right at the start of Prime Minister's

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Questions by a Labour MP. Even fantastically corrupt Nigeria

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is asking Britain to clean up its act and introduce beneficial

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ownership registers in overseas territories. Will the Prime Minister

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achieve this tomorrow at the anti-corruption Summit? First of all

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I better check the microphone is on before speaking, that is probably a

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good idea. I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. The

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answer to his question is yes. We have asked three things of the

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overseas territories and Crown dependencies, automatic exchange of

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tax information, common reporting standard for national companies and

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central beneficial ownership registries so we know what companies

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are based there. They have delivered on the first two and they will be

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following an delivery on the third. That is what he asked for that is

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exactly what he's getting. It was a subject picked up

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by the Labour leader, What he will do about the UK

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administers tax havens who receive large amounts of money from dodgy

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sources which should and must be closed down, as should any tax

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evasion in the City of London. We need a British government that is

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prepared to chase down this level of corruption. This government has done

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more than any previous government to deal with this issue of making sure

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that our overseas territories and Crown dependencies are not tax

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havens but behave in a responsible way.

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The SNP leader at Westminster raised the recent

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elections, before turning to the corruption issue.

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The Prime Minister's government was elected with 37 cents of the vote,

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so I am sure he would acknowledge the success of Nicola Sturgeon and

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the SNP in being returned victoriously for a third time with

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46% of the vote, the highest of any political party in national

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elections anywhere currently in Western Europe. Mr Speaker, on the

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anti-corruption Summit, has the Prime Minister read the appeals from

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Nigerian campaigners who say our efforts are sadly undermined if

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countries such as your own are welcoming our corrupt to hide their

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ill gotten gains in your luxury homes, department stores, car

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dealerships, private schools and anywhere else that will accept their

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cash with no questions asked. The role of London's property market as

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vessels to conceal stolen wealth has been exposed in court documents,

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reports, documentaries and more. What is the Prime Minister going to

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do about this? First of all I am delighted to congratulate Nicola

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Sturgeon on her victory in the Scottish elections, as I'm sure he

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would want to congratulate Ruth Davidson. CHEERING

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We have something in common, because of course the SNP have gone from

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majority to minority while but conservatives have gone from

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coalition to majority. Next week he can get up and asked me how we

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getting an ordering some new panda bears for Edinburgh zoo. But the

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question he asks about the corruption Summit is absolutely

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right. The whole point of holding the summit in London is to say the

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action is required by developed as well as developing countries. One of

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the steps we are taking to make sure foreign companies that own UK

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property have to declare who the beneficial owner is will be one of

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the ways we make sure that plundered money from African countries can't

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be hidden in London. The Liberal Democrat leader also

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raised last week's elections. Mr Tim Farron. Order! Order.

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LAUGHTER However irritating the honourable

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gentleman... CHEERING LAUGHTER

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May be to government backbenchers, he has a right to be heard, and he

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will be heard. Mr Tim Farron. I am fantastically grateful to you, Mr

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Speaker. LAUGHTER I heard the Prime Minister on two

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occasions this afternoon congratulate the numeric London,

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Sadiq Khan, and I would like to repeat that myself. He did not

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however apologise for his disgraceful and racist campaign the

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Conservative Party decided to run in that campaign. Will he take the

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opportunity to apologise for dividing communities in order to win

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cheap votes? It is a great way to end the session, getting lessons on

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clean campaigning from the Liberal Democrats. David Cameron.

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The Chancellor George Osborne has been challenged over the accuracy

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of claims made by Remain campaigners about the negative consequences

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The Treasury Committee homed in on a warning that British

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households would be ?4,300 worse off if the UK

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The Chancellor stuck by his figures, insisting that Britain would be

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poorer and less secure outside the EU.

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We've had in the last few days and weeks tens of thousands of jobs that

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will go in the city. Every household were soft, we will come back to that

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one surely I expect. Interest rates going up, house prices are going to

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slump. We've been told there will be an increase in terror threat to this

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UK and it has all culminated in heavy breathing by the newspapers.

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-- every briefing that led to the headline, a Brexit could lead to

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war. This does seem a bit overdone. I'm just wondering whether you are

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strengthening weakening your argument on its own terms by going

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in for this stuff? I actually completely reject what you just

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said, because the claims on the impact on the economy has been

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supported by the Bank of England, the OECD, the IMF and every major

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credible institution in the wild. The claims on security that have

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been made were supported a couple of days ago by the two people who ran

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MI6 and MI5 and kept this country safe for many years. The arguments

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about the border stability of Europe once every other country in Europe

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would echo. So I would say what we have done, on the side of those

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arguing to remain in the European Union, is set out credible

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opposition is about the very serious consequences for this country, our

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economy, our security and our place in the world were we to leave.

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The Chancellor was asked to explain predictions that

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households would be worse off outside the EU.

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?4300, this figure by which households are going to be worse

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off, that is a central point about which a lot of noise was made. You

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pre-briefed it, which was regrettable, and a number of

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newspapers led with it as some hard fact, when in fact you have

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explained today that this is a product of modelling, that modelling

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is inherently a science,, and you are publishing a range which

:10:12.:10:15.

reflects the lack of indecision and not setting great stalked by this

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single figure, are you, Chancellor? I think the figure is what I

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described at the time, the central figure in a range. It enables people

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to understand the scale of the loss they would face as a family, and

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that the country would face. It is echoed by similar ranges provided by

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the OECD and London School of economic. As far as I can see,

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nobody has credibly undermined the range we provided.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg started by thanking the Chancellor

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The man from vote leave was difficult to get in, I am grateful

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you showed better response to Parliament on my own friends do.

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LAUGHTER Bowled the is my right honourable

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friend. These are strange days. -- he is my right honourable friend.

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The moment the leaves campaign... The leave campaign has immediately

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started to assert that public expenditure would be higher if we

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left, that we would impose new tariff barriers to protect certain

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industries in the UK... This low tax. This is your report with your

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name on it. Your assumption. The whole we're going to be this superb,

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low tax, low spending, low tariff economy if we leave the EU has been

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somewhat exposed by the nature of the campaign that is being waged at

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the moment. I'm about to finish. It leaves the suspicion that the report

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has taken absolutely the best for remaining and the worse for leaving.

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Chancellor, if I may, a speech made on the 17th of May 2010, you set out

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the Office for Budget Responsibility. You said I am the

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first chance to remove the temptation to fiddle the figures by

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giving up control of the economic and fiscal forecasts. Have you taken

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back control so you can fiddle the figures? No, not at all. We are

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presenting scenarios here. But you can go and get independent figures.

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You're watching Wednesday in Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.

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The last tussle between the Lords and the Commons ended

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when peers finally backed down on the housing bill.

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At the start of the day David Cameron told peers

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to stop blocking the plans, insisting they were holding up

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the delivery a Government manifesto commitment.

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Ministers have pledged to build 200,000 starter homes,

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to be sold at a discount to younger first-time buyers -

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and to allow the sale of some high value council housing to fund plans

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giving housing association tenants the right to buy their homes.

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In the Commons the housing minister told peers it was time to back down.

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This is the third time we have had to vote to confirm a key

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manifesto commitment, so I do not intend to detain

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I know that I do not have to remind the House of what we said

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in our manifesto, as I outlined those commitments last week

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The Lords have scrutinised the Bill more than adequately,

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and I thank them for their efforts, but this is no longer scrutiny: this

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Enough is enough; it is time to stop.

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Lord Kerslake's amendment has two levels of problems.

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It would impact on our ability to work with local authorities

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to deliver the best, most cost-effective,

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deals for replacement housing, and that could reduce the funding

:13:58.:14:00.

for our manifesto commitment to deliver right-to-buy discounts

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We received a clear mandate for that at the general election.

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The Labour frontbencher said the Government's refusal to accept

:14:11.:14:12.

Lord Kerslake's clause would "sound the death knell" for social housing.

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The Government were forced to make a string of concessions in the House

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of Lords and were defeated multiple times, showing the extent

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It does nothing to fix the causes of the past six years of failure,

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sounds the death knell for social housing and will be a big let-down

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for people who are desperate for a home.

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Council housing acid should not be used to fund the right to buy for

:14:43.:14:47.

tenants. We should not be adopting this top-down policy of forcing the

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sale of council assets. The legislation was sent to appears

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again and the Lordships finally back down but not before the labour front

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bench to the highly unusual attempt of condemning attacks on the cross

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be here -- peer behind much of the opposition to the bill.

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Mr Lewis says of this distinguished and highly respected public servant:

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"Not only is Lord Kerslake unelected, he is the owner

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of his own home who is trying to stop others from owning theirs".

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Quite apart from the offensive language unworthy of a Minister

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of the Crown, this disgraceful attack entirely overlooks the role

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of the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, in supporting the voluntary

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agreement between the housing association movement,

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of which he is a leading member, and the Government in extending

:15:48.:15:50.

He is owed a prompt and full apology.

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Lord Kerslake himself accepted it was time to back down.

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In the end, any contest between this House and the other place

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That is as it should be: it is elected and we are not.

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However, that should not dissuade us from making our case

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clearly and forcefully on issues that really matter.

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In this case the matters involved matter a great deal.

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The underlying concerns about this Bill have been about its fairness,

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its commitment to localism and its deliverability.

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Most of all it has been about whether it will deliver

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the additional houses of all types and tenures that this country

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And he argued he'd had to balance political conventions

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with what he knew about the lives of real people.

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I give just one example of a family with five children living

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in a two-bedroom flat less than half an hour from this House.

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The five children share a single bedroom.

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Will their chances of securing a decent family home be enhanced

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or diminished by the passage of this Bill?

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I fear we know the answer to that question.

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In my view, it is the interests of this family and the many others

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like them that should come first in our deliberations in this House.

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And with that the Lords backed down on their last legislative

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disagreement with the Commons - clearing the way for this session

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The Government will publish its White Paper on the future

:17:43.:17:49.

the shadow Culture Secretary called John Whittingdale to the Commons

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to answer an urgent question on the corporation -

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and accused the Government of seeking to destroy it.

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The recent consultation on the BBC charter -

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response to a Government consultation ever - shows that three

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quarters of the public want the BBC to remain independent.

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The BBC does a brilliant job in informing, educating

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and entertaining us all, and four fifths of the public believe that it

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Today we read in the newspapers that the Secretary of State intends

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He is wrong to do so, and we will oppose any such revision.

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He is seeking to turn the BBC away from a mission that has succeeded

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brilliantly for 90 years and of which the public approve.

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He did not like the results of the public consultation,

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so he is simply ignoring them, but the public love the BBC and want

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it to carry on doing what it has been doing so well for more

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May I finish by giving the Secretary of State a bit of advice?

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It is not too late for the Secretary of State to start

:19:05.:19:07.

He will not be forgiven, and nor will his party,

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if he continues on the path, which he has been briefing

:19:17.:19:19.

to the newspapers, that will lead to the destruction of the BBC

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as our much loved national broadcaster and turn it instead

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into a mouthpiece of the Government of the day.

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We have had an extensive consultation and have

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I would simply say to her that they are legitimate questions

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for tomorrow when she has had the chance to read the White Paper

:19:43.:19:48.

rather than for now, when she has read comments

:19:49.:19:52.

in the newspapers that range from complete fantasy to others that

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are quite well informed but certainly not informed by me

:19:56.:19:58.

We occasionally criticise the BBC for repeats and insist on original

:19:59.:20:11.

content wherever possible, but I suspect we will have an awful

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lot of repeats tomorrow from the Honourable

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Lady, because that is when she should ask the questions

:20:17.:20:18.

and when I shall be happy to provide her with answers.

:20:19.:20:21.

Members on both sides of the House wait with some trepidation

:20:22.:20:24.

for the publication tomorrow of the White Paper on the future

:20:25.:20:26.

of the BBC, but the Government should be in no doubt

:20:27.:20:29.

about the support for editorially independent public service

:20:30.:20:31.

broadcasting throughout the United Kingdom.

:20:32.:20:37.

There often seems to be something of a gulf between some

:20:38.:20:41.

of the whackier notions floated by the Government via the press

:20:42.:20:44.

One of the most bizarre must surely be the idea that the BBC should

:20:45.:20:50.

desist from broadcasting popular programmes at the same time that ITV

:20:51.:20:55.

broadcasts popular programmes, presumably,

:20:56.:21:00.

the BBC should show only dull, unpopular programmes at those times.

:21:01.:21:06.

There are reports that that remains a sticking point

:21:07.:21:11.

between the Government and the director-general.

:21:12.:21:12.

Will the Secretary of State reassure us that there is no truth

:21:13.:21:15.

Following the lefty-lovey hysteria at the weekend,

:21:16.:21:29.

Friend agree that scrapping the discredited BBC Trust,

:21:30.:21:32.

asking for more transparency in a publicly funded organisation

:21:33.:21:37.

and wanting the BBC to be distinctive and impartial is hardly

:21:38.:21:40.

the end of public service broadcasting as we know it?

:21:41.:21:45.

Friend, and I think he will find that our proposals certainly do not

:21:46.:21:52.

represent the end of public service broadcasting.

:21:53.:21:56.

Indeed, I hope it will be felt that they strengthen public

:21:57.:21:59.

If constructed, the nuclear power station

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in Somerset would be the first new nuclear plant

:22:10.:22:11.

in Britain for 20 years, and, at ?24 billion,

:22:12.:22:15.

The project's been on the cards for more than seven years.

:22:16.:22:26.

But in the last 12 months serious doubts have emerged over

:22:27.:22:28.

whether the French energy firm EDF is willing to take the financial

:22:29.:22:31.

There'll be finance from China as well.

:22:32.:22:34.

In the Lords, a numbers of peers had misgivings over whether the whole

:22:35.:22:37.

My Lords, there is no economic case for Hinkley Point and there is no

:22:38.:22:41.

The numbers do not work; neither does the EP reactor.

:22:42.:22:52.

We need nuclear plants but we do not need this nuclear plant.

:22:53.:22:55.

In the light of this, for the sake of the UK taxpayer

:22:56.:22:57.

and the UK energy consumer, is it not time that we pulled

:22:58.:23:03.

My Lords, I hesitate to disagree with my noble friend but I do

:23:04.:23:15.

We need Hinkley C and there is a very strong economic case,

:23:16.:23:21.

as I have indicated, in terms of jobs and the power

:23:22.:23:24.

I agree that we also need other nuclear plants.

:23:25.:23:27.

We are of course developing those as well to help us transition away

:23:28.:23:30.

My Lords, does the Minister recognise that, with all due

:23:31.:23:38.

respect, we do not need his noble friend to put the boot

:23:39.:23:41.

The French Cabinet and the board of EDF are quite capable of doing

:23:42.:23:45.

Is my noble friend aware that the Chinese also have a plan B,

:23:46.:23:48.

which is to bypass EDF altogether and to build two smaller reactors

:23:49.:23:51.

on the Hinkley C site, and to do it rather quicker

:23:52.:23:54.

My Lords, are there not fears about the safety

:23:55.:23:58.

Is it not a very expensive project and could nuclear provision not be

:23:59.:24:07.

better arrived at by building smaller nuclear power stations

:24:08.:24:14.

My Lords, standards of nuclear safety are second to none

:24:15.:24:26.

The noble Lord is of course right about small modular reactors,

:24:27.:24:30.

and we are progressing with that, as my right honourable

:24:31.:24:32.

friend the Chancellor announced in the Budget.

:24:33.:24:34.

We have had 38 expressions of interest...

:24:35.:24:35.

My Lords, I am sure the Minister is well aware that the global solar

:24:36.:24:39.

industry is doubling every two years.

:24:40.:24:42.

In spite of this Government's withdrawal of subsidies,

:24:43.:24:44.

there will be sufficient global capacity in 12 years to cover

:24:45.:24:49.

Does that not make Hinkley Point obsolete?

:24:50.:24:55.

We will probably not even have it built in 12 years' time.

:24:56.:25:01.

My Lords, the noble Baroness is right on the growth of renewables

:25:02.:25:03.

and absolutely right to highlight the importance of that,

:25:04.:25:06.

as I have been doing repeatedly, without subsidy.

:25:07.:25:08.

But she is wrong to say that we do not need a back-up,

:25:09.:25:12.

That is where nuclear is so important and why

:25:13.:25:15.

The arguments used by those campaigning for the UK to the within

:25:16.:25:31.

the EU have an echo of those used in the No campaign in the Scottish

:25:32.:25:36.

referendum, according to the SNP. The subject came up on a regular

:25:37.:25:42.

round of Scotland questions. That is it for now but join me tomorrow for

:25:43.:25:47.

the very last day of this session of Parliament. For now, goodbye.

:25:48.:25:58.

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